This Saturday sees most college conferences holding their championship games, which—for my money—makes for the most exciting week of college football. The Big-12 game between No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Baylor promises to be a repeat of their wild come-from-behind affair from earlier this year. The Big Ten match-up features a somewhat reeling No 8. Wisconsin team facing the buzzsaw against the No. 1 team in the country in Ohio State. The ACC match-up features a huge underdog in No. 23 Virginia attempting to fend off No. 3 Clemson. Then finally, the SEC slugfest between No. 4 Georgia and No. 2 LSU and their flashy quarterback should provide plenty of fireworks.
So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU)
The forgotten man in the LSU offense, Edwards-Helaire has blossomed this season and now ranks third in the SEC in yards and first in touchdowns, which is an impressive accomplishment considering how much LSU passes the ball. His huge task at hand this week is to maintain that production against a Georgia Bulldogs defense that ranks second in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game. Last season, Edwards-Helaire put up 146 yards against this defense and any type of repeat would be quite impressive.
Other prospects to watch
OG John Simpson (Clemson)
The future Senior Bowl attendee is the muscle behind Clemson’s rushing attack, but his job this week will be keeping quarterback Trevor Lawrence upright against Virginia. The Cavaliers rank second in the ACC and sixth in the nation in sacks, with 43 on the season. Just last week, they came down with six in a win over Virginia Tech. Virginia gets it done by bringing waves of different players in and throwing in blitzes to boot. This will be a significant test for the senior guard—from an awareness and processing standpoint.
LB Jordan Mack (Virginia)
The leader of the underrated Cavaliers defense is Mack, their middle linebacker. Despite that position, he’s more of a new-age hybrid linebacker who can run and stands at 6’2” and 230 lbs. Those measurements are the template for the modern-day NFL ‘backer. This week he faces down the herculean task of tackling Clemson running back Travis Etienne, while simultaneously having to play coverage against arguably the best group of pass catchers in the country.
TE Harrison Bryant (FAU)
Bryant has been a big draft riser this season after playing offensive second-fiddle to Devin Singletary at FAU the year before. At 6’5” and 240 lbs, Bryant is an ideal receiving target at the position, managing to rack up 965 yards and six touchdowns. UAB happens to be the sixth-ranked passing defense overall, though, so they won’t be intimated by Bryant and production may be tough to come by. Let’s not forget about the Conference USA championship game!
DT Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma)
In November, Oklahoma was able to defeat Matt Rhule’s Baylor team only through a ruthless comeback effort. That game, it was defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins who had a big day, with three sacks and four tackles for a loss. If Gallimore wants to convince scouts that he is more than just a mid-round pick, he will need to have just as big a day as Perkins previously had. Scouts want players who show up for the big games.
Game of the Week
4:00 PM EST
This will be an intense grudge match between two of the most complete teams in the country. The Bulldogs hang their hats on their defense, but most of their prospects are on the offensive side of the ball. That includes quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D’Andre Swift and offensive linemen Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson and Solomon Kindley. On the other side will be the potential first player picked overall in LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, lockdown corner Kristian Fulton, and impact safety Grant Delpit.